$32M in federal COVID stimulus flowing to county
Madison County is slated to receive $20 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus monies of the state’s $6 billion with separate allocations for municipalities.
The funds are all part of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Act passed last month by Congress to help local governments recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The break down for Madison county municipalities is as follows:
• $5.7 million, city of Madison.
• $5.4 million, city of Ridgeland.
• $2.7 million, city of Canton
• $420,000, city of Flora.
While local officials know they will be able to receive the funds, most said they do not yet know how they will use the monies because they are awaiting further guidelines from the federal government on how the funds can be used.
The initial legislation, however, provided some broad guidelines for acceptable expenditures, including infrastructure and broadband internet for rural areas.
Below is what some elected officials throughout Madison County said about their government’s plans at this point for the money coming their way.
Madison County $20,610,800
Madison County is slated to receive more than $20 million in federal funds and District 4 Supervisor and Board President Karl Banks said early discussions between county officials have them considering expanding broadband internet access in the northern part of the county.
“That is one area we are considering using the funds,” Banks said, adding the Rescue Funds process is “complicated.”
Madison County Administrator Shelton Vance, Banks said, is still crunching numbers on what the broadband internet project could look like.
“There are specific uses for these funds,” Banks said. “You can't just take it and use it anywhere but we are going to try to make it go.”
County spokesman Heath Hall said Vance is still awaiting details on what the money can be spent on but said the county is ready to receive the funds.
“Shelton and his team are still working through all the details,” Hall said. “We don’t even know when the money will be paid to the county, but we have already opened a bank account for these funds.”
Hall said Banks’ suggestion of a broadband project was consistent with issues the board has been discussing for some time.
Specifically, he said that District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin has been noting broadband dead spots in the northern part of the county for about a year.
During the Madison County Board of Supervisors April 5 meeting, three students from rural northern Madison County came before the board to ask the county to support bringing broadband internet to their areas. (See story, page A5.)
Joey Deason said the Madison County Economic Development Authority has not had an opportunity to review the American Rescue Act in depth.
City of Ridgeland $5,430,000
The City of Ridgeland is slated to receive $5,430,000, and Mayor Gene McGee said the city is still awaiting guidelines before making a plan to spend the money.
“That is all we know at this point,” said McGee of the amount designated to the city.
McGee said he did not have information on what projects the city would be allowed to use the money on or if they currently have anything in the works that would qualify.
McGee said it was his understanding that the money would be issued to the state first and then the city, though that exact process had not yet been made clear to the city, and they did not have a timeline on when they might have access to the funds.
McGee said the Mississippi Municipal League, of which he is a past president, is monitoring the situation and is poised to lobby for allowable uses that would benefit the State’s municipalities.
City of Madison $5,790,000
Likewise, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler said Madison is in a holding pattern on how the city will use its $5,790,000 funds.
“After the funding is allocated and the guidelines for use are determined,” Hawkins said, “the Mayor and Board of Aldermen will meet to explore our options. At this time it would not be prudent to speculate on how monies will be spent.”
City of Canton $2,730,000
The city of Canton is receiving $2,730,000, but the city also does not know what they are doing with the money yet or when they will be receiving it, said Canton City Clerk Allyson Majors.
Town of Flora $420,00
Flora will be receiving $420,000 as part of the American Rescue Plan for Mississippi, and Mayor Leslie Childress said he does not know when Flora will be receiving the money but uses for the package are planned.
“We plan on using the money to upgrade the infrastructure of water and sewer lines,” Childress said. “There’s not much we can do until we get the money, but that is the plan as of right now.”
He said the plans will not go into effect until the money comes in.
Mississippi Statewide breakdown of $6 billion
Mississippi will receive approximately $6 billion in total from the rescue act, which is equal to the state budget.
The funding will be distributed as follows, according to Mississippi Today:
• $429 million for higher education;
• $166 million for capital projects for rural broadband access project;
• $577 million for counties;
• $258 million for smaller cities;
• $97 million for metro cities;
• $1.8 billion to be appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature over the next three years primarily to replace revenue lost because of the pandemic for COVID-19-related costs; and
• $1.6 billion for K-12 education, primarily to be disbursed to local school districts.
Duncan Dent and John Lee contributed to this report.